Increase in Scottish university students from deprived areas
The Scottish Government has a target to ensure 20 per cent of students are from Scotland’s most deprived backgrounds by 2030
Image credit: Chris Radburn/PA
A record number of Scottish university students were from the most deprived areas of Scotland last year, new figures reveal.
The statistics, published by the Higher Education Statistics Agency (HESA) show that 15.6 per cent of first degree students entering university were from the 20 per cent most deprived areas of Scotland.
The figures also show that there was an increase in students from an ethnic minority background from 15,400 in 2016/17 to 16,520 in 2017/18.
There was also a 10.6 per cent increase in student enrolments with a known disability this year.
Last year saw an increase in the total number of Scottish students enrolling in Scottish universities.
Higher Education Minister Richard Lochhead said: "These statistics highlight the good progress being made on widening access to higher education.
“I'm pleased to see more Scots going to university here and a record increase in entrants from our most deprived areas.
"Combined with recent UCAS statistics, this shows demonstrable progress towards giving every young person in Scotland an equal chance of success, no matter their background or circumstance.
"It is also great to see a record number of enrolments and an increased number of qualifications achieved in 2017/18. All of this speaks to the level of excellence found across our higher education institutions."
Following the Commission on Widening Access, a target was set to ensure that, by 2021, 16 per cent of students entering university will be from Scotland’s most deprived backgrounds, increasing to 20 per cent by 2030.
At 15.6 per cent for 2017/18, this is just 0.4 percentage points off the 2021 target.
Alastair Sim, director of Universities Scotland, welcomed the progress.
He said: “Scottish universities’ commitment to widening access is intrinsic to the values of higher education.
“Universities have accelerated their work on widening access, and this is delivering results: a 20 per cent increase over five years in students from the most disadvantaged backgrounds is proof that we are a sector that lives up to its values.
“In addition to our success on widening access, it’s welcome to see increase in enrolments at all age groups as well as rises in the number of students enrolling who disclose a disability and from a minority ethnic background.
“Our universities reflect the diverse communities they serve. This is good news for universities and wider Scottish society too.”
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It is the largest survey of its type to be carried out in Scotland this decade.